How to Answer Protestants Forum: St. Paul in Wales?
St. Paul in Wales? QUESTION from James August 12, 2001 I was talking to a Baptist the other night at a party who was telling me that there may be evidence that St. Paul made it to the British Isles and that through examing this they are finding hnts of evidence that there was a Christian denomination there that pre-dates Catholocism.
I said that I do not know how something can predate Catholocism, since it is the Church Christ founded. Have you heard this argument? It seemed very obscure and weird, but there was something in the way others in the room were finding it fascinating that I found a little unsettling.
ANSWER by Mr. Troy Martz on August 15, 2001 Dear James:
If this isn't just the best: A Baptist tries to use extra-biblical tradition to disprove the Catholic Church. I find it funny on the face of it -- especially since they always claim that Catholics are the ones who place trust in sources other than the Bible.
Beyond that, there are two major flaws with this theory. First, since Christ founded the Church (which was later called Catholic to distinguish it from heretical groups that had left the Church), there was no Christianity before the Catholic Church. Another way of saying that is to say that the Catholic Church existed some years BEFORE St. Paul's conversion.
That brings me to the second point. St. Paul was as Catholic the (only type of Christian at the time) from the time of his conversion to his death (and still is today as the Doctrine of the Communion of Saints reminds us). If St. Paul reached Britainia, the Christianity he founded there would be of the same vein as the other churches he founded -- part of the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church.
I don't know if St. Paul made it there, but I have heard of a similar story that can be confirmed: St. James' missionary work in India. Missionaries in the late middle ages found a Christian community that was very Catholic in their teachings and liturgy but had not had contact with other Christians for at least 1300 years.
The reality is that it doesn't affect the Church's Apostolic claim, it is just another of the foundless attacks on the Church by her wayward children. To quote John Cardinal Newman:
To be steeped in history is to cease to be Protestant.
Any honest scholar can see that historical Christianity is Catholic Christianity as given by Jesus Christ, taught by the Apostles, and preserved by the Church in union with her Bishops (the Successors of the Apostles).
Pax Christi, Troy Martz
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